Is life but a Pascalian dream? A commentary on Lacan’s louvain lecture

This article provides a detailed commentary on Lacan’s statement that “death belongs to the realm of faith” and relates it to a dream discussed briefly yet repeatedly in his work. This nightmare by one of his patients is qualified by Lacan as ‘Pascalian’, which allows for a discussion that takes into account Pascal’s famous pensée on ‘the wager’ and Lacan’s analysis of it in Seminar XVI. From this, the conclusion is drawn that the life of the conscious individual may be experienced as finite and mortal, but the life of the subject (of the unconscious) is immortalized by an infinite, repetitive signifying order. This idea is further explored via both Pascal’s argument that life is something one can wager and the Lacanian notion of object a.

The Transmission of Trauma

Arising from the work of Fonagy and others, the question of the transmission of the effects of trauma is examined, particularly in the context of holocaust trauma and the survivors. Possible mechanisms are explored and the place of Freud’s notion of deferred action is discussed and the mode of its possible operation in this context. It is suggested that this notion offers a more specifically psychoanalytic and more adequate approach to exploring what is operative here. Transmission is considered as a possible case of nachtraglichkeit, which might offer a better account of the phenomena being explored. The implications of the above for the particular trauma that is the reality of death are alluded to and it is suggested that the trauma is commonly dealt with through the mechanism of deferred action.

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The Laws of Repetition, A Meditation

In this meditation, the author enumerates, in reference to his clinical practise as well as to his reading of Freud and Lacan, six laws of repetition: 1. repetition is continuous; 2. repetition operates in function of life; 3. repetition does not come down to mere reproduction but exists only through variation; 4. in repetition, smaller and bigger “rounds” are to be differentiated; 5. repetition operates in function of the cruelty of jouissance; 6. when one realizes that, beyond any mastering of the smaller rounds of repetition, the big round finds its way, then it already is too late.

‘Vergänglichkeit’ and Death: a Comment on some Freudian Texts

This article addresses the problem of the impossibility of a psychoanalytic Weltanschauung through a reading of Freud’s texts on war, death and transience and with reference to Freud’s membership of the B’nai B’rith. The link with clinical material leads the author to conclude that Freud’s insight into human nature, while enthusiastic, lacks optimism.

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The Psychophysiological Unconscious – Gustav Theodor Fechner and the Moon

The author explores Fechner’s understanding of the unconscious and in doing so emphasises the ambivalence of his conceptualisation, i.e., the scientific and the spiritu¬alistic side of his thinking. The Elemente der Psychophysik (1860) form the central, al¬though not the only, reference: texts such as Das Büchlein vom Leben nach dem Tode (1836) and the posthumously published report on his illness will also be discussed. Fur¬ther, in order to compare and highlight Fechner’s own conception of the unconscious other ideas about the unconscious from the same period (Carus, Helmholtz, von Hartman) will be considered. The Fechnerian “unconscious” is actually conceived as a state of sleep or as a state of unconsciousness. Put into the cosmic context, Fechner’s unconscious levels the finality of death. The difference between Freud’s and Fechner’s notion of the uncon¬scious becomes obvious and is delineated on the basis of a close reading of Freud’s reference to Fechner’s “other scene”.

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